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Electric and Alternative Vehicle Fuels


Of course today is relevant. One problem as of today is that it is not practical to recharge an Australian EV with power from the UK. We typically use the grid power we have here today. Some of us may have a PV supply. Even a modest recharge of a large EV such as the Tesla with a 75 or 100kWh battery needs a very large PV array 10kW or more for even a half charge assuming it is at home all day.

Any EV in Australia primarily charged for the mains remains an expensive indulgence. That’s ok as we all indulge.

The UK does have a lower carbon grid, due to large scale generation from nuclear power and natural gas as well as renewables and coal.

Notably the UK has nearly halved it’s total equivalent CO2 green house gas emissions since 1990. Australia is a long way short of that level of performance. It has very little to do with EV’s although the UK did have electric milk carts long before Elon Musk put a battery in a car.


What is the opportunity for Electric and Alternate Vehicle Fuels?

One big assumption: that the style, type and size of the vehicles we use over the next decade remains similar to the present. And our lifestyle choices, work and vehicle usage does not change significantly.

One way to make a big difference that is currently socially and politically unlikely: It would save significant expense and green house gas production if we had fewer vehicles and lived differently. All school age children might be walking to the nearest school or catching a bus. More of us would work from home (Tele/net working) if we had an NBN that was fit for purpose? Of course this needs no new technology or even electric cars. Perhaps electric assist bicycles would help the transition. This way forward may also be unacceptable to the motor vehicle industry with its annual >$100b tunnover being halved?

If we take the less confronting approach of less radical and more progressive changes:

  • How many vehicles do we need to upgrade to new fuels or systems?
  • How long might this take?
  • How much more will this cost?
  • How long before there is a return (financial and environmentally)?
  • How close are we to a practical more cost effective solution?

I can volunteer one answer to the first two points. With 19.2 million registered vehicles of which 74.6% are passenger vehicles (or 14.4million) and around 1.2 million in sales each year. It will take ar least 12 years assuming no one keeps vehicles for any longer.

This stat excludes the ubiquitous 4wd and pick up style vehicles. The data for these is buried in the light truck category of the abs data set.

The other 25.4% include buses, petrol or diesel heavy 4WD through to heavy road haulage. These are not only fuel heavy in operation, they are also the vehicles that do most of the mileage. Another challenge is whether we should be putting proportionally more effort into finding the solution for this classes of heavier vehicles? It may just be this is where we get the best return on investment in new technology?


Thank you all for the many contributions. There appears to be a general consensus about power sources that are better for the environment than fossil fuels, but the full details are difficult to ferret out because of the numbers of variables, and many references have been cited. Some of the possible alternatives remain ‘laboratory’ rather than viable ‘consumer’ at current levels of deployment, and remain tantalizing to see where they might go.

The thread has come to focus on electric, and as a consumer issue anyone reading about or considering one as their preferred next generation vehicle has a lot to think about whether they are or are not doing ‘the right thing’ as they understand it. Significant voice has been had on that technology, so I am closing the thread for a while to allow thoughts about other technologies to gel, both pro and con.



Thanks @TheBBG :+1: :slight_smile:


A hydrogen powered locomotive replacing diesels in Germany. One size might not fit all modes of transport.


Not sure if diesel is a true alternative, but it looks like its time may have come and is going.


This topic was automatically opened after 13 days.


Somewhat more practical than the nuclear option:

but not as elegant as the solar:

Not very practical maybe, but it has style (in an Orient Express sort of way).

Anything that runs on rails and stops at stations could probably adopt something like this:

or just go electric.

An alternative for a different form of transport:

Back to the future!

Some interesting facts and figures on hydrogen:


Watching on youtube is more interesting than watching via a click because Youtube has the comments that include many obvious questions that are not included in this video.

As with lots of arguments about lost of things, it focuses on one aspect and does a good job, but ignores total end-to-end systems for the most part, although alluding to some of it.

That being written, it is educational but should be watched along side an equivalent video about LIon batteries, both from ‘birth to death’ costs and problems.

One also has to question why anyone, let alone private enterprise, would be interested in manufacturing with anything so flawed as implied when the two options being presented both have problems and different histories of research of solutions. It gets to some of the issues at 12:00 minutes shortly before the commercials for the ‘classes’ begin.

For any solution having electricity components I remember the pitch not many years ago about how the concept of a low energy home has changed. It was once (simplistically) lots of insulation, gas heat / hot water / cooking, electric lights. As economics and technology have evolved it is at its penultimate (ignoring those pesky birth-to-death’ costs) it is a fully off-grid battery backed solar system with electric water services, heat pumps, and electric everything since it is ‘free’ in context of the ‘installed home’.

I expect LIon batteries vs hydrogen still has a way to go before a winner is declared, and as with VHS vs Beta the winner might not be the best, it might be the most marketable.


A nuclear powered train?

How about a nuclear powered bus?

Lucky that it was just a comedy movie.


Ford gets in on the electric truck act:

I hope this one’s a joke:


Style vs substance. History is littered with examples.

While LNG is not perfect it is still a step better than diesel. Why not an LNG turbine powered truck with electric drive and battery energy recovery. There is much more scope on a large vehicle and would ustilise exisiting technology and components. Good for Australia too as we import nearly all our diesel and petroleum fuel.


Now here’s an alternative!

Then we have an Australian original:

Check out the key!


Australian innovation in compressed air technology:
Apparently, it’s quite a thing.


Compressed air vehicles have been done before. Not very efficient 7% wheel to wheel, and range limited (5 to 10km for the only demonstrated vehicle). In theory perhaps better up to one fifth of the range of the same weight of LiFe type batteries. Perhaps an opportunity for short trips.

There is a lot of wasted energy both in the efficiency of compression and in the thermal losses on expansion. Although you do get air conditioning, cooling as a side benefit. Ok in Darwin, not much use in Hobart.

Of course rather than using compressed air if you use a gas that is common and able to be readily liquified there are significant improvements in range. CO2 is ideal in this application! We already have a plentiful supply. Any interest? ( realistically it would reduce total carbon by displacing the burning of hydrocarbon fuel with a carbon source we already have). That compressed air car sounds better now.

p.s. We used to have a simpler version of the wind up car as kids. It had pedals that you turned instead of the key. You can still purchase a grown up version with two, optionally three or four wheels.


That’s why I’m surprised that it’s a thing. There’s apparently quite a lot of activity in the field. I must be missing something.


You notice the web site doesn’t give any performance figures for any of the applications they show. I can see it might be useful where you cannot have engine fumes, such as indoor forklifts. I would think that niche is taken by batteries and unless air is more efficient or cheaper, which doesn’t seem to be the case, I can’t see how it is an advantage. Perhaps after The Collapse we will have water wheels compressing air for our vehicles to run on.


Evidently, this is the source of the technology in the Tata vehicle. They mention a range of 125 miles, which is adequate for most commutes and shopping trips, though there’s also a hybrid version.

It seems efficiency tops out at 13%.


No matter how good the vehicle may or may not be the sound it makes would soon exhaust the most intent Benny Hill fan.

The simplicity of the design and low weight are admirable prototype qualities. Slightly more complete than my desired road registered electric golf cart for local trips, it would need likewise to gain Aussie road registration. Given the current ADR’s it may need a quantum shift in Engineering and state govt thinking to change the rules to allow any light weight alternate fuel vehicle to be approved.

The claims for the range and speeds of the solution and costs may not yet be supported by a practical demonstration. This suggests the solution is still short of being marketable. How hard would it be to drive the demo around a closed circuit at say 50kph until it ran out of air and set a Guiness world record. Possibly also one for the world’s longest fart.